Funding Policies

Page updated June 1, 2021

Indirect Costs

The James S. McDonnell Foundation does not pay indirect costs. Indirect cost recovery is the result of negotiations between the federal funding agencies and universities who carry out government-sponsored research. As described in a Rand report (URL provided below) The US Federal funding agencies have negotiated to cost share facilities and administration with Universities and private research institutes. Unlike other federal government contractors, Universities are not able to recover 100% of facility and administrative expenses because their mission of education, scholarly research, and public service overlaps to some extent with government sponsored research.

At the outset, the federal government provided research funds to universities on terms markedly different from those governing relations with industry. Whereas industrial firms were eligible for reimbursement of full audited costs, universities were permitted to recover only a fraction of their indirect costs. The theory was that since research was a regular function of universities, some of the university's own budget should go to the support of the research performed by its faculty, whatever the source of that support. The earliest NIH reimbursement rate for indirect costs was 8 percent. As federal subvention increased, however, the universities argued that they were in effect subsidizing government in ever larger degrees. In response, the regulations were changed to permit reimbursement of 20 percent of indirect costs and finally, in 1965, by act of Congress, the policy was changed to provide for a negotiated reimbursement of costs, but not full reimbursement. The principle adopted was that of "cost-sharing," a notion growing out of the original assumption that some of the charge for university research ought to be borne by the university.

The James S. McDonnell Foundation is not a federal funding agency supporting “sponsored research”. Rather, JSMF grants assist Universities in successfully fulfilling their three-part mission (education, scholarly research, and public service) by supporting research that is an integral component of the activities of Universities. As such, JSMF is philanthropically alleviating a portion of the costs that would usually be borne totally by the University.




Organizational Compliance and Research Misconduct Policy

The James S. McDonnell Foundation is committed to high standards of research integrity and practice in the research it funds. As part of this, we expect grantee institutions to follow all legal and normative guidelines for carrying out scholarship and research in addition to adhering to JSMF policies specific to its grants.

Investigators and their institutions must abide by all applicable laws and regulations, including those governing the conduct of research on humans or animals. JSMF follows the NIH guidelines for the humane care and use of animals in research and for the use of humans in research.

All grants with human participants and/or animal research must have up-to-date ethical approval documentation as of the start date of the grant and at all times throughout the life of the grant or fellowship. The grantee is responsible for obtaining all human and/or animal ethical approvals.

JSMF uses the U.S. Federal Government (42 CFR § 93.103) uniform definition of research misconduct as “fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism in proposing, performing, or reviewing research, or in reporting research results.” Misconduct must be an intentional or reckless departure from “accepted practices of the relevant research community.”

JSMF requires the grantee organization to investigate all allegations of research misconduct involving researchers that we fund, and to have formal written procedures for handling these allegations.

Furthermore, the grantee organization must inform JSMF about any allegations of research misconduct made against employees at the organization who are funded by JSMF or have an application for funding submitted or pending. This initial notification should be done as soon as possible. JSMF should be updated regularly of any investigation progress and notified of the outcome of the investigation before it is made public.

If the grantee or JSMF determines that the allegation of research misconduct is substantiated, we will consider all appropriate actions including terminating the grant.


(Effective December 2018)
(Updated March 2019)





JSMF supports STEM policy recommendations that the stipends for graduate students and postdoctoral trainees be provided, when possible, by institutional training grants or individual fellowships. In the view of JSMF, student tuition is an educational cost NOT a research cost and is an inappropriate budget item for a research grant. Budgets requesting stipend or salary support for trainees actively engaged in the research described in the application for JSMF research grants must provide an explanation for such requests in the budget justification component of the application. During review, the training track record of faculty involved in applications requesting trainee support will be used as an explicit criteria in evaluating the proposal




Documentation of Tax Status

For complete information on JSMF Grant Documentation Policy, please follow this link.

The James S. McDonnell Foundation makes grants to qualified 501(c)(3) tax-exempt or foreign equivalent organizations--not individuals--in response to Request for Proposals for established JSMF programmatic areas. Unsolicited requests that do not fit into a program area and are not research related are not funded.

Domestic and foreign institutions that have a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status or institutions that are instruments of the government are required to provide this documentation only when a proposal is selected for funding.




Constraints on Generality

JSMF supports the use of Constraints on Generality (COG) statements that identify the interpretative limitations resulting from population sampling, the use of experimental stimuli, and the influence of context on research findings. Use of these statements in primary research articles can contribute to a more cumulative science by helping other researchers to replicate studies and by encouraging researchers to undertake follow-on studies that test the boundary conditions of the original finding. JSMF encourages its grantee to include COG statements in all research descriptions and publications.

Reference: Constraints on Generality (COG): A Proposed Addition to All Empirical Papers. Daniel J. Simons, Yuichi Shoda, D. Stephen Lindsay. August 30, 2017.



Open Science Guidance for Grantees

JSMF is a member of the Open Research Funders Group (ORFG) and is committed to open science and best practices for transparency and reproducibility. We encourage JSMF-funded researchers to adhere, to the extent possible, with the open guidelines being established for federally supported research.

Grants funded by the foundation are able to use existing approved funds, when appropriate, to support open science activities while in pursuit of the approved research. Examples of open science activities include but are not limited to pre-registration, open publications, data curation and sharing, code/software sharing, protocol sharing (e.g., Databrary, Open Science Framework), and preprint deposit.





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Contact Information
The James S. McDonnell Foundation
1034 S. Brentwood Blvd., Ste 1850
Saint Louis, MO 63117
Phone: 314-721-1532